If luring famous women and smoking cigars can get you noticed, then chef Hector Santiago of Pura Vida is well on his way. After all, it worked for Donald Trump, right?
If you’ve been keeping up with Atlanta’s stake in Season 6 of Top Chef, you know that chef Santiago’s deep-fried steak didn’t go over so well with the judges (if you need to catch up, check out John Kessler’s hilarious recap), even if he does claim to cook with “heart and balls.” Ouch. I don’t even want to think about that.
If you’d like to judge for yourself, head over to Pura Vida tonight, where the special is … Top Chef promo music here, please … deep-fried steak in a smoky brine for $11. Owner (and Hector’s lovely wife) Leslie Santiago tells me the plan is to offer a special of whatever Hector cooks on Top Chef each week from Thursday through Monday nights.
I tried it Saturday night, and while not overwhelmed (there is goat mofongo on the menu, after all, to distract me), I certainly don’t think the dish prompted Hector’s call to the lineup of possible pack-your-knives-and-goers. The meat is tender and medium rare, sliced and fanned across the plate with just a trace of … is that cigar smoke?